I remember Hope Chigudu warmly embracing me, whispering to me these words, “It is time to let go of everything even if it’s going to hurt others…so you can heal, be free and start thinking of yourself as a person.” These words are still my guiding principles today.
~ Florence Awuor, Flourish Retreat participant.
AWDF’s inaugural Flourish Retreat was launched in February this year in what will turn out to be an incredibly empowering start to what was going to be a very difficult year.
Taking place at the beautiful Sogakope beach resort located in the Volta region of Ghana, the Flourish retreat is one strand of the AWDF Flourish Project aimed at strengthening feminist organising across Africa, a partner project of the NOVO Foundation’s Radical Hope Fund. Built deliberately around African healing philosophy and practices, the Flourish facilitators used a plethora of tools – art, chakras for emotional, spiritual and physical wellbeing, breathing exercises, affirmations, dancing, aromatherapy, meditation, moon rituals, yoga, poetry and creative writing, individual and group reflection sessions, journaling, theatre and counselling sessions.
The NoVo Foundation launched the Radical Hope Fund in July 2017 with a global call for projects grounded in new partnerships, bold experimentation, and a deep commitment to social justice. The vision of Radical Hope is to create spaces for dreaming new possibilities, experimenting with new collaborations and developing new, creative strategies to overcome structural failures. AWDF’s Flourish Project was one of 19 initiatives selected to support this vision on the continent.
Using a transformational, feminist approach, the Flourish retreat created a dynamic healing space for 20 African feminists. These were women working on the frontlines of VAW prevention in the fields of sex work, women living with HIV, running rape crisis centres, healing and feminist movement building.
In an interview, Jessica Horn, Director of Programmes at AWDF, speaks about healing, the AWDF Flourish retreat and her vision for what the retreat could do within the African feminist movement. Jessica is a writer and political commentator, co-founder of AIR. She curates open mics where people explore the concept of Revolutionary Love and also acted as a Flourish Facilitator at the inaugural Flourish Retreat.
Written by Nana Akosua Hanson, Programme Officer, Catalytic Initiatives, AWDF
Click here to read the full interview and also the reflections of the participants – A Flourish State of Mind blog
To see more pictures from the retreat, visit our Instagram page @theawdf